SANTA CRUZ — The bird lady of 17th Avenue ducks under Tibetan prayer flags and into a makeshift lab that was partly built, she says, by a Caltrans worker sentenced to community service for illegally washing away seven swallow nests.
Inside are dozens of birds being nursed back to health by 84-year-old Molly Richardson, with the help of twin granddaughters wielding syringes of fish meal. But in the past week, Richardson has seen a new development — about 40 young pelicans have come to her in various states of distress.
“We're getting ones that are weak. They're underweight,” Richardson said.
The rescued pelicans appear to be part of a natural die-off. While it may be distressing to witness, the deaths are actually a sign of pelicans' rebound.